Washington, D.C.--The Polish American Congress (PAC) has issued a message asking all Directors and State Divisions to write or call their Senators urging support for the McCain/Kennedy bill. It was issued under the names of Virginia Sikora, President; Les Kuczynski, National Executive Director; and Casimir I. Lenard, Executive Director, Washington, D.C. Office.

The message stated, "The debate is growing ever stronger on immigration issues, especially in terms outlined by two, recently introduced bills in the U.S. Senate: the first being sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) entitled 'Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005' (S.1438), which rivals the bipartisan immigration act introduced in Congress earlier this summer by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Robert Kennedy (D-MA) called 'Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act' (S.1033)."

The Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act (S.1438), introduced by the two border state Republicans would impose new provisions on temporary worker visas, establish a new initiative to legalize and monitor existing undocumented workers, and introduce new identity cards for the U.S. workforce. The bill goes up against the immigration bill introduced in the House and Senate this May, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S.1033).

In particular, The Cornyn-Kyl bill proposes a Mandatory Departure policy For undocumented immigrants living in the United States, by requiring immigrants to register in order to receive a special five year residency allowance, after which they would be required to return to their country of citizenship. The requirement would not make provisions for those immigrants seeking to acquire a permanent visa, or green card. Instead, it would require those documented under the program to leave the country after or during the five-year period, and pay a substantial penalty of several thousand dollars before applying for a permanent visa through existing immigration statutes.

The bill also calls for an end to so-called lottery Visas, which have provided permanent residency in the past for many Poles now living in the U.S.

In addition to the Mandatory Departure program, the Cornyn-Kyl bill introduces new border enforcement provisions that will increase border patrols and encourage local law enforcement operatives to enforce immigration laws. The bill, likewise, proposes a national ID system based upon an individual’s social security number. The card would be required proof for employment, and would be integrated with federal and state identity cards or driver’s licenses compliant with a new series of federal standards.

Finally, the Cornyn-Kyl bill seeks to curb the influx of low-wage immigrant labor in the United States by establishing a new Temporary Worker Visa, category W. Under the program, immigrant workers would be allowed to assume jobs not filled by American workers (as determined by stringent new standards) for a period of no more than twenty-four months, after which they would have to return to their home country for at least a year. In order to prevent abuse, the bill imposes a six-year lifetime cap for workers entering under the initiative.

On the other hand, Senate bill 1033 introduced by Senators McCain and Kennedy in May 2005, titled the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act represents today the only immigration legislation with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. The legislation also received wide support from a wide range of organizations and institutions, e.g., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Service Employees International Union.

The McCain-Kennedy bill calls for solutions remedying the malfunctioning immigration system that seems to be more realistic and liberal. It proposes strengthening America’s borders and increasing enforcement, while also encouraging economic growth by bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows to do the lowest paid jobs Americans are not willing to perform.

Either bill will have far-reaching implications for the tens of thousands of Poles and hundreds of thousands of immigrants who travel to America every year to live and work.

The PAC statement concluded, "The discrepancy between the bills is clear: the Cornyn-Kyl bill, if passed, will significantly redefine and transform America’s view towards immigration, while the McCain-Kennedy proposal addresses the same issues in a much more “immigrant-friendly" manner.

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